Statement by Turkey at the Security Council Meeting on “the Situation in the Middle East”

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 20.01.2021
Mr. President,

Thank you for organizing this meeting. I also thank Special Envoy Pedersen and USG Lowcock for their briefings.

At the outset, I would like to join other colleagues and pay tribute to Ambassador Kelly Craft for her personal dedication to highlighting the plight of the Syrian people. I applaud her for walking the talk in advocating rights of all Syrians including those who sought refuge in Turkey, as well as her personal efforts for extending the UN cross-border mechanism which is lifeline for millions of Syrians.

The humanitarian situation in Syria remains extremely worrisome.
Syrian people are caught between violence, COVID-19 and harsh winter conditions.

People are suffering due to limited access to healthcare services, water and food. There are urgent needs of shelter and other basic necessities.

In the northwest, the regime has rendered health services unprepared for the global health crisis with its indiscriminate military campaign.

Recently, the number of positive COVID-19 cases have risen steadily in northwest Syria, reaching record levels.

While access to health and adequate sanitation in the context of continuous displacement remains challenging, humanitarian organisations actively operate to deliver lifesaving assistance to the most vulnerable. We are in close contact with the UN agencies on vaccination planning for these people.

Mr. President,

3 million IDPs living in the northwest are in acute need of humanitarian assistance and depend on the aid channeled from Turkey.

UN cross-border mechanism continues to be the only instrument to meet the humanitarian needs.

Since the adoption of the Security Council Resolution 2533, around 4.000 convoys chanelled humanitarian assistance into the region through the single crossing point Bab al Hawa.

We also continue to deliver pandemic-related items in accordance with the recent trilateral agreement between the Turkish Red Crescent, OCHA and WHO.

Let me repeat once again that there is no alternative that can match the scale and scope of the UN cross-border operations.
It is deplorable that this Council failed to re-authorize Bab al Salam crossing point, leaving hundreds of thousands of people at the mercy of the Assad regime.

I am obliged to remind the urgent need to re-open this gate and request the Security Council to fulfil its responsibility in accordance with the General Assembly resolution 75/193 on the human rights situation in Syria.

Mr. President,

I have voiced in previous meetings that shelter is the most critical need in the northwest.

I am pleased to inform that as part of the ongoing national project to alleviate shelter needs in Idlib, Turkey finalized the construction of more than 27.000 housing units. Our aim is to provide shelter to more than 52.000 families in the coming weeks.

It is crucial that all international stakeholders and donors prioritize funding such projects.

Mr. President,

For more than a year now, electricity disruptions hindering the proper functioning of the Alouk water station have been an issue of concern.

As I have explained on numerous occasions, deliberate interruptions by the terrorist organization PKK/YPG continue to put half a million innocent lives at risk and impede efforts to effectively combat the pandemic.

Although we repeated our calls to all interested parties and actively contributed to the efforts to restore the water supply, the problem remains to be solved.

And with no surprise, together with PKK/YPG, the regime is also doing its part by grounding circuit interrupters on power lines towards the Alouk water system.

We all know the perpetrators and their quest for tactical gains by not ensuring the sustainability of the system and the provision of water to Hassekeh in full capacity.

Mr. President,

Let me also touch upon the political situation.

As the sole functioning mechanism within the political process, Constitutional Committee should advance its work in an accelerated and productive manner.

To that end, Turkey will continue its collaboration with the UN and other relevant actors, as well as its coordination within the Astana framework.

During the fifth round scheduled for 25-29 January, the Committee should focus on the constitutional principles, with a view to yielding concrete results. This is critical for the effective functioning of the Committee.

The Syrian sides should be advised and warned accordingly. It is imperative to fend off attempts for stonewalling.

We support Special Envoy Pedersen’s efforts for advancing the political process.

We attach importance to the Astana process as a critical element of overall efforts for finding a political solution to the Syrian conflict. We are working on rescheduling the 15th meeting of the Astana process in the coming weeks, which had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

Preserving the ceasefire in Idlib is crucial for protection of civilians and preventing new migration waves. Having said that, regime continues its ceasefire violations. In line with our efforts to maintain the ceasefire and within the framework of the Additional Protocol of March 5th, we continue our technical engagement with the Russian Federation.

Mr. President,

Turkey also continues her resolute fight against terrorist organizations on the ground. Thanks to our counterterrorism efforts against DEASH and PKK/YPG, 420.000 Syrians have voluntarily returned to the Syrian territories cleared from terrorist threats.

PKK/YPG continues to carry out terrorist attacks targeting civilians in northern Syria. Since October 2019 alone, PKK/YPG launched over 300 terrorist attacks.

Most recently, the bomb attack it carried out in a marketplace in Rasulayn on January 2nd resulted in the death of 6 people, including two children and injured 11 people.

Another terrorist attack carried out by PKK/YPG with a bomb-laden vehicle 3 days ago in a marketplace in Azaz, killed at least one civilian, while injuring several others.

These bloody terrorist attacks continue to be largely ignored. The international community must unequivocally condemn them and expose their perpetrators.

A collective fight must be waged against this terrorist organization. Otherwise, PKK/YPG will not cease its separatist actions against the territorial integrity of Syria or its heinous attacks against civilians.

It is time to end this ambivalent approach and call a spade a spade.

International community must refrain from actions that would violate international law and serve the separatist agenda of PKK/YPG hiding behind the name of so-called “SDF”.

Turkey will continue to stand against PKK/YPG’s attempts to gain legitimacy and its efforts to consolidate its totalitarian grip over the northeast through oppression and economic incentives.

Mr. President,

Let me conclude by reiterating our strong determination to address the plight of the Syrian people and actively contribute to a political settlement that will meet their legitimate aspirations.

As to the previous speaker, I will not honor him with a reply. As I have stated many times, I do not consider him as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

Thank you.